Daily Archives: January 7, 2014

(RNS) Jonathan Merritt–5 films that will make 2014 ”˜the year of the Bible’

The Bible narrative has always been one heck of a story. It reads like a mix of action thriller, period drama, romance novel, and the more apocalyptic parts, like pure fantasy. The gripping narrative sections of the text are part of the reason why the Bible is the bestselling book of all time.

But in 2014, we’ll discover if the Good Book is as captivating on the modern day silver screen as it is in print.

The scrappy Christian film industry has been budding for the last several years, proving that people of faith are hungry for content that speaks to the soul. But what many religious films possess in terms of spiritual content, they often lack in star power and budgets. This year, however, big studios such as Sony and Lionsgate are entering the fray by releasing films of, well, biblical proportions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Pope Francis gives Catholic Church a gentle revolution

In just nine months Pope Francis has almost trebled the size of crowds attending papal audiences, Masses and other events in Vatican City.

Before 13 March last year, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was expecting to spend his next Christmas in retirement – in an old people’s home in the Buenos Aires district of Flores, where he was born 77 years ago.

But now he carries the hopes and fears of more than a billion Roman Catholics.

What explains this suddenly renewed interest in Catholicism? What need is Pope Francis meeting in people?

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Archbishop Welby urges prayers as violence mounts in South Sudan

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Anglican Communion to pray and advocate for an end to the intense fighting which has overtaken large regions of South Sudan in recent days.

Over 500 people are feared dead in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, where fighting first broke out. The violence has since spread, particularly affecting Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States.

Archbishop Justin wrote to Anglican primates and moderators… [yesterday] at the request of Archbishop Daniel Deng Yak, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, --North Sudan, --South Sudan, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Spirituality/Prayer, Sudan, Theology, Violence

(Charisma) Ron Edmondson–Can We Please Stop All the Nasty Social Media Comments?

I have had an online ministry for more than 15 years. God has humbled me with the way He has chosen to use this influence He has given me. I try not to take it for granted.

One thing that has changed since I began ministering online””and it’s changed for all of us””is the rise of social media. Whether you believe it’s a good addition or not, we cannot deny its impact on culture or even on the church. Personally, I have chosen to use it for good as much as possible.

Still, it disturbs me some of the ways I see Christians respond on social media. I can post one thing, whether serious or not””and I do use humor intentionally as a part of my online presence””and it never amazes me how someone might respond. I have referred to the practice as a “slam and run.” I just have to thank God at times for the delete option. But it’s an example of a bigger problem. Christians aren’t always behaving well online. What we’d never say offline we have no problem saying online.

Seriously, this isn’t a personal plea. This is a kingdom plea.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(ABC Aus.) Tanya Riches–Why the media doesn't get Hillsong: Reflections of an Australn Pentecostal

It’s nice to be home in Australia for January, after completing two and a half years of a PhD program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles. One perk of being in Sydney, aside from reconnecting with family and friends, is attending my home church – Hillsong. I grew up in the congregation, and returned in 2010 before relocating to the United States. It’s the thing I missed most while away. (Of course, an announcement was just made about a new Hillsong plant in Los Angeles in 2014 – so if I do end up in Pasadena for dissertation writing, I can worship there.)

Because the new-ish Manhattan Hillsong plant is going so well, there’s growing interest in the United States in the church. Mainstream specialists in religion and religious movements are increasingly turning their attention to global Pentecostalism (or in this specific case, Oceanian charismatic evangelicals who really don’t like “tags” being applied to them). This fuels more interest in Australia. Reactions to a plea from an Australian theologian, some remarks during a sermon by Hillsong leaders Joel and Julia A’Bell after a particularly libellous “expose” on Today Tonight, along with a few other coincidences, raised recurring themes for me, so I thought it might be appropriate to reflect a little on what it meant for me to grow up a “Hillsonger.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecost, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

(AJTNYCR) Jesus the New Yorker–Part 1 of series on evangelical resurgence in NYC

On October 6th Tammy Wang attended an evangelical church, New Life Fellowship of Elmhurst Queens, that didn’t exist when she arrived in the city in the Fall of 1975. Furthermore, she hadn’t heard of the church until recently. And yet today this congregation of 1400 regular attenders was inaugurating a leadership succession to the founding leaders Pete and Geri Scazzero. This congregation is one of several thousand such evangelical churches that have grown up since her move to the city.

Scazzero told the congregation that New Life Fellowship’s multi-class, multiracial, international community (37+ nationalities) with its contemplative, emotionally reflective life-style “is a gift of hope to many around the world. Our community offers a glimpse of what is possible by the power of God, and is a taste of heaven itself.”

A New York City church “a taste of heaven itself’? A place that has become an inspiration for churches around the world? What is happening here? What does it mean for the future of the city?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Congratulations to Florida State who Beat Auburn last night in a thriller 34-31

Jameis Winston threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left and No. 1 Florida State beat No. 2 Auburn 34-31 to win the last BCS national championship game on Monday night.

Winston struggled much of the night but was near perfect when the Seminoles (14-0) needed it most, going 6 for 7 for 77 yards on the game-winning 80-yard drive. A pass interference penalty on Auburn’s Chris Davis gave Florida State a first-and-goal at the 2 and on the next play Winston hit his big receiver for the touchdown.

“I said this from Day 1 in spring ball. These kids are special,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “This group never faltered. They wanted to be elite. They wanted to go to the top and there’s so much character in this group.”

Read it all from AP.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, Sports, Young Adults

(Wired) How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet

[Glenn] Greenwald was the first but not the only journalist that Snowden reached out to. The Post’s Barton Gellman had also connected with him. Now, collaborating with documentary filmmaker and Snowden confidante Laura Poitras, he was going to extend the story to Silicon Valley. Gellman wanted to be the first to expose a top-secret NSA program called Prism. Snowden’s files indicated that some of the biggest companies on the web had granted the NSA and FBI direct access to their servers, giving the agencies the ability to grab a person’s audio, video, photos, emails, and documents. The government urged Gellman not to identify the firms involved, but Gellman thought it was important. “Naming those companies is what would make it real to Americans,” he says. Now a team of Post reporters was reaching out to those companies for comment.

It would be the start of a chain reaction that threatened the foundations of the industry. The subject would dominate headlines for months and become the prime topic of conversation in tech circles. For years, the tech companies’ key policy issue had been negotiating the delicate balance between maintaining customers’ privacy and providing them benefits based on their personal data. It was new and contro­versial territory, sometimes eclipsing the substance of current law, but over time the companies had achieved a rough equilibrium that allowed them to push forward. The instant those phone calls from reporters came in, that balance was destabilized, as the tech world found itself ensnared in a fight far bigger than the ones involving oversharing on Facebook or ads on Gmail. Over the coming months, they would find themselves at war with their own government, in a fight for the very future of the Internet.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government, Theology

South Carolina Legal Developments (II)–Commentary from A.S. Haley on S.C. and San Joaquin

On Monday of this week, South Carolina Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein denied the motion by the ECUSA parties to expand their counterclaims against Bishop Mark Lawrence and certain of his clergy — a motion which I previously predicted would be denied in this earlier post. In ruling from the bench, Judge Goodstein noted that the counterclaimants had failed to show any good reason to single out specific members of the clergy for acting in accordance with the wishes of the Diocese they served — actions that were ratified and approved by literally thousands of its members.

The Diocese’s Canon to the Ordinary, the Rev. Jim Lewis, responded to the ruling with this statement: ““We are grateful that Judge Goodstein dismissed this most recent effort to harass our people with time-consuming, expensive litigation. Attorneys for both TEC and TECSC have tried to distract attention from the denomination’s efforts to seize our property by suing our clergy and pursuing our lay leadership. The judge’s decision ends the legal fishing expedition and forces all to focus on the only issue that matters: whether our religious freedom is protected.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

South Carolina Legal Developments (I)–Diocese of South Carolina Wins Again Against Episcopal Church

South Carolina Circuit Judge Diane S. Goodstein today denied efforts by The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) to expand its lawsuit by adding claims against four diocesan officials.

The judge, who had only a few months ago rejected efforts by the national Episcopal Church to drag literally all of the diocese’s officers into the suit, said there was no reason to single out the specific members of the clergy for acting consistent with the wishes of the Diocese as approved by literally thousands of members of the diocese.

In November, TECSC had asked the judge to expand its suit to include Bishop Mark Lawrence and three other clerics, alleging that actions they took to withdraw the diocese from the denomination were outside the scope of their legal authority and violated state law. In denying the motion, Judge Goodstein briefly referenced a last minute TECSC affidavit that asserted an early conspiracy to leave TEC. The Very Rev. Paul Fuener, a priest named in the affidavit, observed, “I am confident that his recollection of our interview is seriously in error, if not worse.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty Lord God, who didst give thy Son Jesus Christ to be the light of the world: We praise and magnify thy holy name that in him thou hast revealed the wonder of thy saving love to men. With those of old who brought their tribute to his feet, confessing him as King of heaven and earth, we now present the worship of our grateful hearts, beseeching thee to give us grace to give ourselves to thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–James Todd

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colos”²sae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love which you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing””so among yourselves, from the day you heard and understood the grace of God in truth, as you learned it from Ep”²aphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

–Colossians 1:1-14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Euronews) Epiphany celebrations around the World

Watch it all–it is just under two minutes and includes scenes from Bulgaria, Jerusalem, and Turkey.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Globalization, Religion & Culture

Globe and Mail Editorial–Afghanistan: What will be after we’re gone

In much of the world this is a time of new beginnings. In Afghanistan, it is time to mark the beginning of an end: A dozen year commitment of foreign troops to fight the Taliban will wind down this year, meaning 51,000 American soldiers are poised to take their leave from a conflict that appears to be stumbling towards a stalemate, or worse.

The Afghanistan mission has been the longest military engagement in American history. For Canada, which saw 30,000 of its soldiers pass through the country over nine and a half years, it is the largest military operation since the Second World War. One hundred and fifty-eight Canadian soldiers and four civilians died, and by the end of 2010, a total of 1,859 military members had been wounded.

Those grim figures are just part of the reason why Afghanistan’s future should still matter ”“ to Canada and its allies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Canada, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(BBC) Ten weird and wonderful images of our world in 2013

. My favorite is the 2 mudskippers–which is yours?

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Globalization, Media, Photos/Photography

Archbishop of South Sudan and Sudan appeals for help as thousands are affected by ongoing violence

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and called on the Anglican Communion to help communities in South Sudan respond to those displaced by the widespread violence that is continuing in the nation.

With fighting continuing in South Sudan, Most Reverend Dr Daniel Deng, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan has written a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He calls for sustained prayer, for advocacy on an immediate peace process and for humanitarian support from across the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Sudan, Violence